Family is a theme Tim Beckman constantly uses when talking about his Illinois football program.
In fact, the Illini coach used the word eight times during Wednesday afternoon's press conference announcing the final 15 signees in a 25-member recruiting class for 2013.
Illinois already had 10 recruits (five junior college transfer and five high school seniors who graduated early) who enrolled for second-semester classes in mid-January.
"We sell them family, and we believe in family," Beckman said. "These 25 young men who have come out and said they want to be a part of Illini football, even though we didn't have as successful a football season as we wanted. They made the commitment that they can come here, be involved with the family and be involved in playing, possibly in 2013. That was one of the things that really stood out from this recruiting class is that they're winners, and they can come here (and) be a part of a family."
Overseeing the makeup and construction of said family is Alex Golesh.
The recruiting coordinator for Illinois put in 18-hour days in the two months leading up to Signing Day.
Especially in a January that saw prior commits like defensive backs Reon Dawson (Michigan) and Joshua Jones (North Carolina State) flip their decisions before Illinois added two additional defensive backs in James Crawford and Jaylen Dunlap.
Illinois also lost a defensive end in Lincoln-Way Central's Evan Panfil (Purdue) but added a replacement in Miami Norland's Paul James.
"This year has been more volatile than any other year I've been around, but not for us. I think it's been pretty good for us," Golesh said. "I think at the BCS level in general, there were a lot of moving parts. Is it frustrating? Yeah, it's frustrating, but I think that's why you recruit the next guy and next guy as hard as you're recruiting the guys that are committed. The thing that we learned, and I think that's going to happen even more and more is. I think we did a good job of that, which is why I think we really didn't lose a whole lot. Everybody we lost, we seemed to replace with guys who we thought were equal or better, and in some cases, better. It was frustrating at the time, but then you just go twice as hard on the next guy."
Beckman arrived on campus at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, and the first of 15 letters of intent came through the fax machine at around 6 a.m. (defensive end Dawuane Smoot), with the last (wide receiver Dionte Taylor) at around 11:40 a.m.
The recruiting work didn't stop for Beckman, Golesh and the rest of the Illinois staff this week even after Wednesday's Signing Day festivites.
Beckman and Golesh were set to head to Ohio for a two-day clinic with the state's high school coaches before winter workouts begin on Monday.